Edwin Starr – ‘Movin’ On Up’ (1995)

Edwin Starr was best known for his version of The Temptations’ ‘War’, which became a worldwide hit in 1970. Image courtesy of Mark Sardella via Flickr.

Believe it or not, a romantic comedy about surfing provided one of the best cover versions of the 1990s.

This version of Primal Scream’s ‘Movin’ On Up’ won’t win any extra marks for originality, but it does not stop it from being superb.

No one can deny that it is a faithful rendition; its similarity to the original is blatant.

However, it is perfectly suited to Edwin Starr’s strengths.

Primal Scream’s original, while excellent, was probably too production heavy for its gospel elements to stand out from the blues rock tone.

Starr’s version, however, is more stripped.

For a Northern Soul cover, the C-major riffs aren’t overly important; these chords are rightly shunted into the background.

What matters is the soul of the vocals and overall sound. It needs to be raw and passionate without sounding earnest and preachy.

And it works very well: it has the sincerity that was lacking from the original and has some good but underused touches, such as the brief usage of an organ.

No matter how good this cover is, though, it would be unfair to say whether it is better or worse than the original.

This is because the full version is impossible to find – mainly because the ‘Blue Juice‘ OST was never commercially released.

And, unless you have access to the master tapes, you will never hear more than the first 150 seconds of the song.

It is a shame because it deserves a wider audience than being shunted to the end credits of a little remembered surfing flick.

But, because of this, there is an aura of mystery surrounding it; no one knows where it falters or thrives beyond that halfway point.

Whether that makes it better or worse is debatable, but the magic of this version certainly is not up for discussion.

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This review was self-published in March 2012.

Non-web sources

Roberts, D. (ed) (2001) The Guinness Book of British Hit Singles. 14th edition. London: Guinness World Records.

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